Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vanguard University Prop 19 Legalization Panel, October 28, 2010

The History/Political Science Department of Vanguard University is presenting a
panel discussion on Prop 19, the legalizing of marijuana in California, in
Needham Chapel on Thursday, Oct. 28, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Panelists include

  • Judge Jim Gray

  • OtherSide Farms owner Chadd McKeen

  • Retired police captain Dave Brooks

  • Professor Darren Guerra

Vanguard wrote to it's faculty, "We invite you to attend and encourage your
students to attend if this is a topic that you or they find interesting. It
should be an educational evening."

Let's support Vanguard University for being a leader in promoting serious
sociological discussion. We want this to be a very successful event so let's
show them we appreciate their open minds!

If you need any further information please visit www.OtherSideFarms.com or call 949 515 4754

Monday, October 25, 2010

Prop. 19: More Than a Nickel Bag of Opinions

Six leading OC medical-marijuana and pot-legalization advocates leave no turn unstoned in examining the ballot initiative

About the only thing anyone can agree on when it comes to Proposition 19 is that it would allow any California resident 21 years and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes. Of course, that’s not all the ballot initiative would do, assuming its myriad other provisions—like the one saying people can only grow 5 square feet of pot plants or the one providing stiff jail terms to people who knowingly sell weed to kids—withstand post-electoral legislative amendments and court challenges. Depending on whom you ask, Prop. 19 would either send a powerful message to both Sacramento and Capitol Hill that the seemingly never-ending war on drugs has been an abject failure, or it would open the floodgates to a massive epidemic of marijuana use, with stoned teenagers dozing off in class and high-as-a-kite motorists creating carnage on freeways from Eureka to San Diego.

Leaving the doomsayers aside, the more interesting and important debate over Prop. 19 pits advocates of marijuana legalization and drug-war reform against folks who have a vested interest in the 1996 Compassionate Use Act (also known as Proposition 215), which famously opened the door to what’s now a burgeoning industry providing medical marijuana to anyone with a valid doctor’s recommendation. With that divide in mind, we talked to a half-dozen local legalization advocates and medical-marijuana experts to find out what they make of Prop. 19 and how they’ll vote come Nov. 2.

Kandice Hawes,
President of OCNORML
Few people are more passionately in favor of Prop. 19 than Hawes. The president of the Orange County chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law) first became an activist when she was arrested in 2003 and charged with felony pot possession during a road trip to Las Vegas. The bust ended the then-Cal State Fullerton student’s government-funded college scholarship. Since then, Hawes has tirelessly worked to end the government’s campaign against marijuana, a crusade she says she’s willing to continue for the rest of her life if necessary.

I think Prop. 19 is the most important issue on this ballot. We haven’t had an initiative like this since 1972—and it was also called Prop. 19, coincidentally. If this doesn’t pass, we won’t have a chance like this for 20 years. We don’t have the fund-raising ability to do it again. We have this chance now. Governor [Arnold] Schwarzenegger recently signed a bill making possession of an ounce just an infraction. He did that so people won’t vote for Prop. 19.

It’s a political move. Even the Democrats are starting to watch this movement and see how it is mobilizing young people to vote, people who are possible Democrats, and they are seeing movement to do this in other states. This will keep people out of jail and save money for our state. And people in the medical-marijuana community are starting to come around and support Prop. 19. They’re worried people won’t want to get recommendations, but people will want to have more than 1 ounce, so the medical-marijuana industry will survive. It’s important for everyone to be open-minded and vote yes on Prop 19.

Chadd McKeen,
Owner of OtherSide Farms
McKeen, who was the subject of a Weekly cover story earlier this year (see Matt Coker’s “Growing Pains,” May 21) is one of the most opinionated voices in the medical-marijuana community. He and his wife, Alysha, both of whom are medical-marijuana patients, intended to open a dispensary in Costa Mesa; the city, however, banned such businesses. They opted instead to open a farm inside a former jewelry store, where they teach other patients how to grow their own medicine rather than pay for it, something that hasn’t exactly pleased folks who own and operate dispensaries or medical-marijuana-delivery services.

At first, I was very much for Prop. 19, and then I found out things about how it was written. There needs to be clarification on how it will affect medical marijuana. Then again, it doesn’t matter what happens in California because it’s still illegal under federal law, and that’s why you can only get a doctor’s recommendation because you can’t prescribe a Schedule 1 drug. If you go on the [Drug Enforcement Administration] website, marijuana is up there with heroin. Schedule 2 is crack cocaine, speed, ice, and I don’t care where you come from, but I think you can all agree crack and speed are not safer than marijuana. Did you know you can write a prescription for crack cocaine? Well, according to the DEA, you can. We need to remove marijuana from Schedule 1. If you can write a prescription, you can go fill it, and then marijuana can be sold legally.

Besides, Governor Schwarzenegger just decriminalized marijuana by making it just a ticket for under an ounce, so what’s the point? [Orange County Superior Court Judge] Jim Gray told me, “Chad, the bottom line is, it’s a step in the right direction; we can make changes later on.” I agree with that, but I am fearful that if it does pass, it will get completely out of control. Everyone will want to buy or grow marijuana. It won’t hurt my business; everyone will be in my class. Kids will be growing it. What works well now is that there is still a taboo on marijuana, so it is kept down low, down in your pocket. Now, people will want to smoke out, like walk out of a bar and smoke half a joint, and then throw it on the ground, and little Bobby or Jimmy will walk up and take it. People will be stealing it, jumping over fences and ripping off plants. I’m not sure which way I’m going to vote. It could come down to the wire.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A new breed of home marijuana grower

Medical marijuana patients can legally grow their own plants, and many are happy to tend their semi-secret gardens. Businesses such as Otherside Farms and Golden State Greenery help set up grow rooms at residents' homes.

Joanne Clarke, a legal secretary in her late 50s, leads the way down a pale green hallway in her modest Costa Mesa home, past a small guest room on the right and a blue tiled bathroom on the left. At the end of the hall, she opens a door, pushes aside a thick black curtain and ducks inside.

"Isn't this wild?" she says, gesturing to the high-tech marijuana grow room she and her husband recently installed. "This used to be my daughter's bedroom."

Wild is one word for it. Bright is another. Unexpected, yet another. What had been a teenager's tropical-themed room is now a beaming, humming, indoor plant laboratory complete with silver reflective bubble wrap on the walls, blinding grow lights, ventilation ducts hanging from the ceiling and marijuana plants in various stages of development neatly labeled with names such as Platinum Kush, Purple Diesel and Blue Cheese.

"They are like our children," Clarke says, gazing proudly at the elegant fronds that look familiar and exotic all at once. "We talk to them."

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Clarke's grow room is legal — in the state of California, anyone with a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana can grow it in limited quantities — yet it still feels clandestine. Although she's open about using pot (crushed and placed in capsules) to help manage the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, she and her husband haven't shown the room to any friends. "Ninety-five percent of the people I know are fine with it," she says, "but it's that 5% that I worry about. I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable."

Just as California has seen a rise in small-scale backyard vegetable gardeners in recent years, marijuana activists and growers cite a similar, if much quieter, rise in medical marijuana patients growing pot for themselves.

The reasons are varied: Buying medical marijuana at a dispensary can be expensive and uncomfortable for those who don't identify with marijuana culture, and now that the city of Los Angeles has declared that just 41 of the remaining 169 dispensaries are eligible to stay open, finding a convenient place to buy marijuana is becoming increasingly difficult, especially for those with a debilitating illness. The organically minded are concerned about chemicals that might be in marijuana they don't grow themselves, and still others worry about where their pot came from. "I don't want to fund terrorism," one home-grower says.

Some gardeners — and many do see this simply as a form of gardening — say they get the same soothing pleasure from tinkering with grow lights, temperature controls, fertilizers and additives as others get from nurturing prized rose bushes or carefully pruning bonsai trees.

"My husband can spend hours a day in our grow room," Clarke says. "For him, it's fantasy land."

The new breed of home marijuana grower comes in all different forms, whether it's a 25-year-old rooftop gardener taking as much pride in his first harvest of okra as in the marijuana that grows alongside it or a 75-year-old retiree cheerfully growing cannabis on her senior-village balcony. Pony-tailed boomers are geeked out on the fact that it's actually legal to grow this stuff, and at least one new grower called up the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener help line for Los Angeles County to ask for advice on growing "grass." (The master gardener on duty misunderstood the question and recommended a drought-tolerant grass. When the caller explained he was talking about grass, she told him she couldn't help: Master Gardener policy.)

Otherside Farms, a marijuana information and education center founded by Chadd McKeen in Orange County, teaches medical marijuana patients how to grow their own pot and also helps people install grow rooms at home. McKeen says half the people who take the weekend-long class on growing marijuana, which he teaches twice a month, are older couples.

"My market isn't the 18- to 25-year-olds — they already know everything," he says. "My demographic is 50- to 60-year-olds."

When he first started installing grow rooms in homes, McKeen was constantly worried that each job was a setup.

"I thought everyone was a cop," he says.

But over time he's become accustomed to the embroidered-sweater-wearing, lighthouse-poster-hanging, older pot smoker who makes up the majority of his clientele. "This is what the marijuana user looks like," he says.

The grow rooms that McKeen installs are generally replicas of the rooms he has in his storefront headquarters in Costa Mesa, even down to the bright orange Home Depot utility buckets he puts mature plants in. Most of the rooms he installs are in second bedrooms, which he usually divides in half to create two different environments — a "veg room" where the plants grow and a "bloom room" where a change in lighting and temperature encourages budding. He said the rooms generally cost about $15,000 to set up.

Golden State Greenery, another company in Orange County that helps novices build grow rooms at home, offers the "California 5-by-5 special," a 5-by-5-foot grow tent that can be set up in a living room or garage. The tent is black on the outside to keep light and heat from escaping, and to keep the structure as discreet as possible. But inside, it's lined in reflective silver to maximize the light source. For $2,500, the company says it can have new clients ready to grow their own cannabis within four hours.

All this fancy (and expensive) growing equipment isn't technically necessary. It is possible to grow marijuana outdoors in Southern California. If planted in the spring, a seed or clone will generally produce one harvest in early fall. Many people have had success with simply sticking a plant on a balcony or tucking one among the tomatoes in the backyard.

"Pot is actually easier to grow than tomatoes," said one man in San Diego, who like many people contacted for this article has a doctor's recommendation and is growing legally but still asked to remain anonymous. "There's a reason they call it 'weed.'"

But for many home growers, the best place is inside. An indoor growing system offers environmental controls that would be impossible to get outside — no snails or caterpillars, less chance of powdery mildew. It also offers the possibility of four harvests a year rather than one. Another reason: Marijuana plants, even just a few, are still magnets for trouble even though medicinal pot has been legal since 1996.

"We tell our students it's kind of like before: You don't plant it in your front yard or your front porch, and you don't show it off," says Jeff Jones, a prominent marijuana activist who teaches grow classes in Oakland and Los Angeles. "There is still the home invasion issue, and your neighbor to the left or to the right might want to steal it from someone who has a VIP pass to grow something that is not legal for others."

At a recent "traveling party," when neighbors went around to one another's homes to check out new additions or garden makeovers, a friend asked Clarke if she and her husband would be showing off their new grow room. Clarke declined.

"It's still hard for people to understand this is legal," she says. "So now when people ask about our new hobby, we just laugh and say my husband is growing a few plants for me. People know we're doing it. They just don't know the full extent."

LA Times: A new breed of home marijuana grower

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Medical Marijuana Advocate Chadd McKeen Seeks to Shake Up Costa Mesa City Council

Read this story here: Click Here

Please also review comments below (pulled from this article) and share your thoughts.

Chadd McKeen says:

It seems we are being followed by the police. They have the Information Center and our home staked out. It's unfortunate that the plethora of information regarding the truth about marijuana is completely ignored by those in power. Who are we to think we know better than the top minds in the WORLD? I have studies from Harvard, UCLA and many more PROVING that marijuana is valuable medicine for so many ailments. I fear my freedom is in jeopardy and it's a shame the city is focusing it's efforts on coming after me. Thank you all for the amazing support. Please keep up the fight so our brothers and sisters in pain can find some comfort.

Posted On: Tuesday, May. 25 2010 @ 9:50AM
Robert says:

The Directors of the Collectives support you and your Family. Be assured we have your back and encourage you to join us. We are all heading in the same direction and are much stronger together than alone. Their is strength in numbers and everyday more and more are joining us to battle this horrible prohibition on Medical Cannabis.
God Bless You and Yours
Newport Mesa Patients Association

Posted On: Tuesday, May. 25 2010 @ 11:57AM
Matt Coker says:


Well said. Those who gave Chadd and Otherside Farms grief this past weekend over our cover story have lost sight of two things:

1) Chadd wants safe and effective medication for patients. Who can be against that?

2) City leaders and cops who are apparently following him can be against that, proving who the real villains are in Chadd's story.

Posted On: Tuesday, May. 25 2010 @ 4:50PM

Thursday, May 20, 2010


OTHERSIDE FARMS makes front cover of OC Weekly this week, May 20, 2010. Get your copy today!

Please note that there are some twisted statements made in this article and OTHERSIDE FARMS does not openly bash dispensaries. Our intentions are good willed and we do not slam anyone. We only wish for a solution that works for EVERYONE. If there are any questions which require clarification, please contact us.

"Here is my take on all of this. There are no dispensaries named in my statements nor did I say ALL or EVERY dispensary and the truth of the matter is that there are bad elements to EVERY industry and if we expect those who oppose medical marijuana to take us serious we ought come to some realizations about the truth. I spoke with several dispensary owners regarding the article and they took no offense to the story stating "I didn't feel it related to me". Exactly! The opposition to medical marijuana has some legitimate concerns about our industry and if we act like everything is just fine then how can expect them to think we are rational and logical thinkers. It's funny to me that so many are offended feeling I put their name or business out there when that didn't happpen at all. Then, those same people do the exact same thing to me and my family. Do we really expect the cities to want to talk to us? It seems we're either suing them or fighting amongst each other. It's unfortunate this has taken the direction it has. It's also odd that the "Chadd McKeen openly bashes dispensaries" statement is only in the online version and again, I never stated any names of dispensaries nor did I say ALL or EVERY dispensary. Also, I dont see where I said "my way is the only way" or that "I am the only one doing it right". This article, and it's subsequent comments, have had a horrible effect on myself and family due to the local dispensaries feeliing we have betrayed them and that was not our intent at all. If our intent were malicious or if we had stated something that was incorrect we would apologize, but we haven't "openly bashed" anyone or mistated the truth. We thank those of you who are supporting us and we encourage those of you who have questions about any of this to come and talk to us in person."

- Chadd McKeen

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Drug-Friendly Netherlands to Close 8 Prisons -- Not Enough Crime

For years prohibitionists, including our own Drug Enforcement Administration, have claimed — falsely — that the tolerant marijuana policies of the Netherlands have made that nation a nest of crime and drug abuse. They may have trouble wrapping their little brains around this:

The Dutch government is getting ready to close eight prisons because they don’t have enough criminals to fill them. Officials attribute the shortage of prisoners to a declining crime rate.

Just for fun, let’s compare the Netherlands to California. With a population of 16.6 million, the Dutch prison population is about 12,000. With its population of 36.7 million, California should have a bit more than double the Dutch prison population. California’s actual prison population is 171,000.

News by Marijuana Policy Project
(May 26, 2009) in Society / Drug Law
By Bruce Mirken

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Governor Schwarzenegger on Marijuana: It's Not a Drug, It's a Leaf!

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made newsthis week when the Associated Press reported an interview Schwarzenegger did with the British edition of GQ where he said marijuana is not a drug, it's a leaf. The Governor's press secretary quickly tried to do damage control and claim that he was joking and made the comments in a lighthearted context. This is not the first time that the Governator has had to address marijuana. There is the famous scene in the documentary Pumping Iron where he smokes a joint on screen.

America (and Arnold) has a paradoxical relationship with marijuana. Tens millions of Americans have smoked or continue to smoke marijuana. Arnold's reefer smoking in Pumping Iron not only didn't hurt him when running for Governor, it probably helped him. And Schwarzenegger is far from being in the minority of elected officials who have smoked marijuana. Many successful politicians have admitted to smoking marijuana, including Al Gore, Barack Obama, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Newt Gingrich to name just a few.

Marijuana smoking is often portrayed throughout pop-culture, like movies and music, in a positive light. Marijuana use does not usually preclude someone from running for office. There are millions who think that heroin and cocaine are real drugs, but marijuana is just a leaf. However, the war on marijuana is very real. According to FBI statistics, about 800,000 of the roughly 1.8 million annual drug arrests are for marijuana -- 88 percent for possession alone. While getting busted smoking a joint may not land you in jail for a serious amount of time, the collateral consequences are very serious. A drug offense, including marijuana possession, will make you ineligible for finical aid for school. Smoking marijuana can also keep you from dozens of others professions that drug test their employees.

I appreciate the Governor's candor and even humor when talking about marijuana. But if he wants to live up to his image of an action hero who has the courage to take on the hard issues, he could start by going after the irrational and inhumane war on marijuana, which he knows is a joke.

Source: Huffington Post
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